Sunday, August 31, 2008


Closing a book recently, I came rather suddenly to realize the intimacy of reading.

Good reading gets so far inside, so deep. . .it tells you about things you never mention to anyone else. It tells you things you didn't know about yourself until you read them. It's been said that the difference between a good writer and a great writer is that the former makes you think, "I feel just like that!" whereas the latter makes you think, "I never knew it, but that is how I feel."

Some characters get closer to you than any characters in your life know how to get, and when you back off, they wait until you are ready to let them approach again.

And you can get as close to them as your mind or your heart will let you. Sometimes your mind is a thick hedge, so you can't get too close right then. When you read that same book, months or years later, you are surprised by what you can touch, or be touched by, now. And sometimes it is your heart that is too timid to let a character fully inside, so that, months or years later, when pain and sorrow have made your heart more flexible and less afraid of fear, you are surprised at how close a character comes to entering the quietest, least visited cave within you.